Fred Swanson always knew he wanted infants, but how that was going to happen was a giant question mark.
“One of the biggest fights for me in coming out was not having lucidity on how I would have kids, ” Swanson says.
Swanson is gay and came out in the 1990 s. At the time, he says, there weren’t many models of gay humen having children of their own. Furthermore, there were several legal roadblocks for same-sex couples. Many countries banned lesbian mothers from adopting or promoting infants. Even as recent as 2016, the nation of Mississippi had a ban on same-sex couple adoption.
Then in 2003, a chance meeting online brought Adam Diamond into Swanson’s life.
The two began dating, and as their relationship grew more serious, they started scheming a future together. Both humen were invested in having kids. Swanson had the idea to foster kids then eventually adopt.
Foster care and adoption induced sense to the couple; they ensure it as a route to show up for another human being.
When people talk about foster care, it often falls into a kind of savior narrative, Swanson tells, but that’s not the story of their family. People all over the world assistance each other out Swanson and Diamond were just fortunate enough that the route they could help was to open their home to their children.
“When someone needs a hand, you step up and you try to help out, ” Swanson says.
There are about 420, 000 kids in foster care in the United States at any given time and those children are disproportionately LGBTQ or black. Those are the numbers that motivated the couple to start working in 2008 with Amara, a Seattle foster care support organization, to prepare to welcome a child into their life. They left their too-cramped-for-kids home in Seattle and bought a house in Burien, a suburbium about 20 minutes south.
In 2009, they greeted 3-year-old Jaylen into their home.
But just as Jaylen was about to move in, Swanson and Diamond got a surprise. Jaylen’s mom had just devoted birth to a newborn baby, Jaylen’s little sister Jade, and wasn’t going to be able to care for her. The question came up: Would Swanson and Diamond be interested in fostering a newborn as well ?
It was a bit of a shock. “Neither Adam nor I had imagined that a newborn baby was going to be part of our scheme, ” Swanson tells.
Yet, two days later, the latter are driving down to Tacoma to pick up Jade.
“That was both exhilarating and also scaring, ” Swanson says. Adding two children, including a newborn, to their family was tremendous and sometimes overwhelming but joyful for the new parents. And, as Swanson points out, it’s hard to not fall in love with a newborn baby. The couple officially adopted Jaylen in 2010 and Jade in 2014.
Over the years, their family has grown in love and size. A third child, Noah, arrived in 2012 and was adopted in 2015. There have been a few small challenges, of course, some around being LGBTQ mothers a little pestering at school( which had now been stopped) and some ire at the Boy Scouts.
For the most part they’re a happy, healthy family unit. Their house is full of toys. Swanson is “Daddy, ” and Diamond is “Aba, ” the Hebrew word for parent. It’s a life of fidget spinners and roller-rink birthday parties.
Having a family has redefined Swanson’s relationship with the world.
It’s changed his relationship with the future. “Creating a just and equitable world for my children is different than making that for myself, ” he tells.
He’s proud of the family he’s built along with Diamond a happy, healthy, and, yes, LGBTQ one.
Most of all, it’s reaffirmed his feeling that the most important thing we can do is simply to reach out and support one another. “It really starts with ‘how do I show up for you as a human and what do you need? ‘” Swanson says. “Parenting is a big piece of that.”
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